Sign language gives children a way to interact with people and their environment, as well as helping parents and educators learn about their fears and anxieties.
We can usually tell when our child is upset or fearful, but we can’t always figure out the cause if our children can’t tell us.
The summer of my son’s second year was marked by severe thunderstorms. The sky would darken, and the wind would whistle through the trees. Then came huge downpours, flashes of lightening and loud claps of thunder. Although I now love the drama of thunderstorms, my childhood fear of thunder was well known to my family and friends.
Seeing my son’s anxious face at the sound of the thunder, I decided to teach him the signs for this kind of weather. Together we learned rain, wind, lightening, and, most importantly, thunder. From then on, he would sign to me when the wind picked up, or when he thought it was going to rain, and began enjoy recognizing and signing thunder.
When his little sister came along, thunder was one of the signs he taught her, and they both learned to laugh at the noise and the sign and the weather. They still love signing thunder at the grocery store. What? In some grocery stores they play a recording of thunder just before they turn on the spray ‘rain’ on the fresh produce. It still brings out their best signing.